She Can’t Get A Motivational Correction

Judy writes: “I have a 6 month old Great Dane that I bought a pinch collar to stop bad habits (nipping, jumping up). This worked great for about one week but now it is very difficult to give a ‘motivational’ correction. It’s almost like she’s gotten used to the collar and doesn’t respond to it anymore. This is especially the case when she is on the couch. Sometimes she bites at this time (not hard, but it’s very annoying), and it is impossible to give her a ‘motivational’ correction. Any advice? ”

Dear Judy:

Here’s a blurb from an article I wrote on how to use the pinch collar:

Basics of the Pinch Collar

The pinch collar is designed to replicate the way the mother would correct her pups in a litter. Or similarly, how the Alpha dog in a pack would correct the subordinate dogs… that is, by giving a “nip” on the neck.

The prong collar (also frequently called the pinch collar) is made of a series of prongs that link together.

Most pinch collars are designed pretty much the same: There is a safety ring which rides next to the dog’s neck and a “D” shaped ring that you hook your leash to. Some pinch collar manufacturers have developed “quick release” mechanisms which may work somewhat differently.

A Safe Fit For the Pinch Collar:

In order to properly size and fit the collar, you must do the following:

1.) Understand that size and fit are two different issues. The size is determined by the SIZE of the prong… not the diameter. Sizes usually come in small, medium and large. For dogs up to 40 pounds, a small prong usually works best as you’ll get more “pinch to the inch.” Dogs 40 to 80 pounds will usually need a medium or sometimes a large size prong.

2.) The fit of the collar is determined by adding or subtracting prongs to change the diameter. Simply break the collar open at one of the looser prongs in the middle of the collar and pop off one or more of the individual prongs.

3.) Properly fitted, you should only be able to fit approximately 1/2 finger space between the tip of the prong and the skin of the dog’s neck. Trust me, you won’t be doing your dog any favor if it’s too loose and you have to give 10 times the number of corrections and it’s rubbing and chafing her neck because YOU weren’t using it correctly. Make sure it’s a snug fit… 1/2 finger space!!!

Don’t Teach Your Dog To Be Collar-Smart!

If you put the pinch collar on your dog immediately before training, she’ll become COLLAR-SMART! She’ll respond like a complete angel when the collar is on but like a real devil when the collar is off. So, just like the Alpha dog who always has the ability to correct the subordinate dogs (with her mouth)… so must you! In other words, leave the pinch collar and a tab (1 foot leash or longer) on your dog ANY TIME YOU’RE INTERACTING WITH HER. You’ll know when she’s proofed when you can call me up and bet me $100 because you’re so confident that your dog is responding with 100% reliability. If you take the pinch collar off sooner, you’re running the risk of making her collar-smart!

Specific to answering your question, usually when people tell me this the culprit is one of the following reasons:

– The pinch collar is too loose, and they need to take another link out. In such cases, you should only be able to put 1/2 a finger space between the prong and the skin of the dog’s neck. Sometimes even less.

– When giving the correction, the handler isn’t using slack, but is instead mistakenly pulling the leash tight-to-tighter. It needs to be loose-to-tight-to-loose, in a sharp, snapping tug motion.

– If, after trying all of the above, you’re currently using a medium sized prong collar, I’d suggest going up to the large. Or vice versa.

Sometimes a different sized prong works better on different dogs. However, this is usually a non-issue, as the culprit is HOW the collar is used (see above.)

Good luck,